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Section 179 Vehicle Deduction: A Comprehensive Guide for Small Businesses in 2023

As a small business owner, it's vital to stay updated on various tax deductions that can significantly lower your tax liability. One such beneficial provision is the Section 179 Vehicle Deduction. This federal tax incentive allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of eligible vehicles, thereby reducing their taxable income. Given its potential to generate substantial savings, this deduction has become an integral part of financial planning for numerous businesses.

Understanding Section 179 Vehicle Deduction

The Section 179 deduction, enacted by Congress, is a tax code that allows businesses to write off the full purchase price of qualifying equipment or vehicles during the tax year. The primary goal of this provision is to incentivize businesses to purchase equipment and invest in themselves.

This deduction applies to various types of property, including vehicles, that are purchased for business use. The vehicle must be utilized more than 50% of the time for business purposes to qualify for the deduction.

Eligibility Criteria for Section 179 Vehicle Deduction

To claim the Section 179 deduction, the following eligibility criteria must be met:

  • The vehicle should be titled in the company's name.

  • It should be used for business purposes at least 50% of the time.

  • The vehicle must be purchased and placed in service within the tax year.

  • The vehicle must fall within the weight specifications provided by the IRS.

Types of Vehicles Eligible for Section 179 Deduction

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) categorizes eligible vehicles into three main groups: Light, Heavy, and Other.

Light Section 179 Vehicles

Light vehicles include any vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 6,000 pounds (3 tons). This category includes many passenger cars, crossover SUVs, and small utility trucks. For 2023, the Section 179 tax deduction limit for these autos is $12,200 in the first year of use.

Heavy Section 179 Vehicles

Heavy vehicles include any vehicle with at least 6,000 pounds GVWR but no more than 14,000 pounds (3 to 7 tons). This category includes full-size SUVs, commercial vans, and pickup trucks. For 2023, a vehicle qualifying in the “heavy” category has a Section 179 tax deduction limit of $28,900.

Other Section 179 Vehicles

This category includes any vehicle with a GVWR over 14,000 pounds (7 tons) or a vehicle modified for non-personal use. For 2023, there is no Section 179 tax deduction limitation for such vehicles.

Section 179 Deduction and Personal Use

While the full Section 179 tax deduction can be taken for vehicles used 100% of the time for business purposes, a partial deduction may be secured for vehicles used partially for personal use. As long as the vehicle is operated more than 50% for business use, a partial Section 179 tax deduction may be secured.

Bonus Depreciation and Section 179

Bonus Depreciation can be used alongside the Section 179 tax deduction to provide additional deductions to income in the year a vehicle is placed in service, thereby reducing a company's tax liability. However, the two tax incentives are not the same and have different implications.

The bonus depreciation allows businesses to deduct a percentage of the cost of eligible assets and property they have purchased. In contrast, Section 179 lets businesses deduct a set dollar amount of newly acquired business assets.

Limitations and Rules to Consider

While a Section 179 tax deduction can potentially reduce your tax burden, there are a few additional limitations and rules to consider:

  • There are caps to the total amount you can write off, which changes every year.

  • Bonus depreciation is not limited to your annual business income, and you can carry forward any unused deduction for a future tax break.

  • The vehicle should be used for business purposes at least 50% of the time over its “class life” (typically 5 years).

Maximum Deduction Limits for Vehicles

Vehicles not subject to depreciation limits include autos with unloaded gross vehicle weight (GVW) more than 6,000 lbs., trucks and vans with GVW (loaded) more than 6,000 lbs., and qualified nonpersonal-use vehicles. They are not subject to the Section 280F depreciation limits.

Section 179 Deduction Calculation Examples

To illustrate how to leverage a Section 179 vehicle to reduce your tax burden, consider the following examples:

Example 1:

Jane purchased a new $55,000 truck for her roofing business. The truck has a GVWR of 8,000 pounds. Jane uses the truck solely for business activities, and according to its GVWR, it falls into the “heavy” Section 179 vehicles category. Hence, she can take the full Section 179 tax deduction for heavy vehicles up to the limit.

Example 2:

Hank bought a used $15,000 hatchback sedan for his bakery business. He uses the vehicle for business purposes more than 50% of the time. The car has a GVWR of 3,000 pounds. Since his vehicle is used 50% for business purposes, his deduction will be limited to 50% of the light vehicle cap, i.e., $5,100.

Consult with Professional Advisors

It is advisable to consult with a tax professional or vehicle valuation expert who can accurately assess the vehicle's value and ensure compliance with IRS guidelines. They can help determine the depreciable value and provide documentation to support the deduction.


Understanding the nuances of Section 179 and its impact on your business vehicle purchases is a fundamental part of your business’s financial planning. For further questions or personalized advice, it’s recommended to consult your accountant or tax professional. Stay abreast of the latest updates on Section 179 and navigate the intricate landscape of business vehicle purchases confidently. Remember, acquiring the right knowledge can propel your business towards financial optimization and success.

NOTE: This article provides an overview of the section 179 deduction. It is not intended as tax advice. Always consult with your accountant or tax professional for advice specific to Section 179 and vehicles.


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